Clerical Collars

Liturgy We Live
by Dr. Gil Haas

Despite being called a “Roman” collar, the familiar white detachable clerical collar was invented in 1894 by a Scottish presbyter. These collars were fastened by two metal studs to hold the collar on the shirt. They formerly were made of cotton or linen but now are frequently made of plastic. Collars of some type were commonly worn by Protestant clergy from the 1600’s, and it was only in the eighteenth century that some Catholic priests adopted them. Whether Catholic deacons should wear collars continues to be debated. Most fundamentalist Protestants erroneously believe that the clerical collar was a Catholic invention. Conceived by a protestant Presbyterian, clerical collars were only widely used by Catholic priests following Vatican II when cassocks became less popular. In Anglicanism, the Anglo-Catholic movement of the 1800‘s separated clergy from the secular world. One outward symbol of this development was the widespread use of distinctive clerical dress such as a black coat and either a white necktie, cravat, sweatband, or bow tie evolving to the widespread acceptance of the white clerical collar. Sweatbands were particularly appropriate for long horseback rides and were popularized by John Wesley who rode horseback throughout England. Requested by James Collins

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